If you want to be among the first to legally purchase recreational marijuana in Seattle, don’t go looking for it in the Central District (and definitely don’t go looking on Capitol Hill). Seattle’s first crop of marijuana shops are slated to open on July 8th, but the only licensed shop in central Seattle won’t be one of them.
John Branch told CHS his 24th and Union shop Mello Times may not open until August. Branch said he’s still building the business after finding out in May he would receive one of the city’s 21 retail marijuana licenses.
“People were assuming they would win (the lottery). I didn’t assume I would win,” he said.
Branch, a Seattle attorney, told CHS he was working to find distributors and put together a staff of up to 20 people for the new store. The appropriately green house that Mello Times is licensed to occupy doesn’t appear ready for a retail marijuana operation, either. A woman at the 1410 24th Ave home told CHS she and her family are still living in the house and they are planning to move out sometime this summer.
As of right now, there won’t be any retail marijuana shops on Capitol Hill. Aside from Mello Times, the next closest retail location is planned to be licensed at 1725 Westlake Ave inside one of the non-descript office buildings along the Westlake super-parking lot.
Marijuana and marijuana infused edibles can only be sold at stores that exclusively sell those products, so you won’t be buying legal joints at your regular corner store. Edibles may also take a while to work their way on to shelves as the state recently enacted stricter packaging rules and has yet to approve any packaging under the new guidelines. Controversial zoning restrictions surrounding schools and parks have so far kept licenses from being awarded on Capitol Hill and other seemingly sensible locations.
It is possible Branch could move his shop before opening, as state law allows some wiggle room for relocating if a lease agreement can’t be worked out. The 24th Ave house may not be the ideal location — the block is mostly residential, with even more residents slated to move in after Capitol Hill Housing redevelops the property across the street.
A resident in the apartment building that shares a parking lot with the Mello Times house said she was unaware that a marijuana shop was moving in and said she was concerned about having a shop so close to her kids.
One alternative location could be around the corner on Union, where landowner and business owner Ian Eisenberg had applied to open a marijuana shop. Eisenberg did not win a retail license from the state lottery.
While the state has seen a fair amount of ownership reshuffling and selling of licenses, Branch said he will open the shop himself and plans to have a booth at this year’s Seattle Hempfest to get the word out on Mello Times.
According to the state liquor board, there is no time by which a shop has to open after receiving its license. The earliest stores can open is July 8th.
Branch said his experience with the state and city has been exceptional, and that he didn’t see any opportunity for the area’s pot-loving community to help him open sooner.
“The process has been going very well,” he said. “It’s just the normal course of opening a business.”
UPDATE: The Seattle Times reports here on Cannabis City, expected to be the first retail shop to open in Seattle next week:
On Tuesday, Lathrop plans to open the doors to Cannabis City and become the first marijuana retailer in Seattle. For Lathrop and other pioneers of Washington’s newly legalized pot industry, cutting the ribbon marks the culmination of months of grueling preparation. Until last week, he and his business manager, Amber McGowan, worked as many as 16 hours a day to prepare the business for its first customers, as well as a two-hour state inspection, which they passed last week, he said.